Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Would visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC be appropriate for my 12 year old?

My 12 year old son learned a bit about the Holocaust in school. For a kid who isn't the best (or the worst!) student, he really developed an interest in the subject. We watch a lot of educational TV like Discovery and History Channel and I read a lot of books, so I was able to add to what he had learned with an honest discussion of some of the horrible things that took place.

I would like to take him to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Wash., DC, but I'm not sure if it is appropriate, or if he can "handle" it. I mean...a discussion about separating families and gas chambers and torture and abuse is one thing. But pictures of ditches full of bodies is a whole different thing.

I would like to hear about the experience you had at the museum, either with or without children. Is it too much for a 12 year old to handle emotionally?

14 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    though i never went to the museum, when i was younger i watched a PBS series THE WORLD AT WAR. it had many depictions of the Holocaust(along with other atrocities) i never forgot the pictures(videos) of the camps and the people. i learned that day how far hate can go. made my 2 youngest daughters see a documentary on the Holocaust,because their favorite words to each other was i hate you. it scared them they cried and now they don't say hate you anymore.they are 12 & 10. hopefully they will not forget. take your child explain what hate can do, and maybe never again will mean something.

  • 1 decade ago

    I was 12 when I first understood about the Holocaust. I vividly remember watching the film in Social Studies and being completely horrified by it.

    I would take him. I have been to the museum and it is designed so that you have to go up to special kiosks to view the most graphic footage. If you get overloaded, which I did in my 30s, you can pause and catch your breath. I seem to recall that most of the most horrific pictures are also shielded. It would allow you a chance to view the image and decide whether or not you want your son to view it.

    What impacted me the greatest was the room with all the shoes taken from victims. I also went to Buchenwald in my 20s. The experience left me shaken for several days.

    Steven Spielburg was a major creative force for the museum and I feel sure he had a hand in its design and layout. I have been to many of the world's great museums including the Louvre, The British Museum, and others. This one is really one of the great museums.

    My 11-year-old son has also developed an interest in it and I would take him to it but probably won't be able to until he is at least 12. You know your son's emotional maturity. My experience with my son is that he doesn't ask questions about something until he is ready to understand. How does yours feel about going?

    I would nurture his curiousity. It's never too early to start teaching compassion and empathy. Good luck, I'd be interested to know your decision.

  • 1 decade ago

    Some kids could handle it, others couldn't. You're the one who knows your son best. If you think he could - and if you are there with him - it would be an enrichment on what he learned at school. Yes, there are some hard facts presented, but you have to remember that children his age were also involved. And it is through remembering events like the Holocaust that we can prevent those situations from happening again.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It depends on him and you.

    Will he have nightmares?

    Some of the displays are age specific so that younger eyes can not see over the barriers.

    For me, I could only handle 3 hours before feeling the need to leave.

    As a nurse, working everywhere from ER to Hospice, my personal recommendation, let him enjoy being a kid. When he gets older then he can learn about mans inhumanity to man.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    The museum may be somewhat shocking for children, but it is shocking for adults also. That, in part, is one of the things which this display SHOULD do.

    The most important thing is that you should not rush through the museum. You should plan at least 3 hours of actual time to go through the displays, if not more. Be open to discussion as you make your way through the displays.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If you believe that your son can handle it, I say go for it. You have been open and frank with your discussions and this will certainly aid in his education and curiosity as well give him more questions for more discussion.

    As a mother, my son has seen some of the reel footage from WW2 and he is quite young (but nothing graphic like that). It gives the biggest lesson in history that not even me as a history teacher can give, the fact that this information will not die, it will carry on.

  • 1 decade ago

    Honestly, it's a parental choice...

    I mean, if he's the kind of kid who'd need to alleviate a nauseated tummy by seeing his friends' scraped knee, then no.

    but if he's mature then go ahead.

    I was mature for my age, so I guess I'm not a particularly good example. but if he has shown a genuine interest, then allow him to see a couple history books before you actually take him...

    try to find some pics from the museum first.

  • 1 decade ago

    Why not. This is what really happened and the truth why would you not want your child to know the truth. As far as him handling it I think he would have no problem. Make it a family outing and explain to him you might see some things that are disturbing and leave it at that.......I would love to see the place but highly unlikely that will happen!!!

  • if you're not sure if he can handle it, why don't you ask him yourself if he thinks he's ready?

    anyway, i actually went there about three weeks ago for a class trip to DC. i was fourteen (well, i still am) and it was really powerful but not overpowering. before we went, the teachers taught us about it, made us read Night, showed videos, brought in guest speakers, etc. i felt like i was prepared but still not entirely prepared. but it wasn't too much to handle.

    actually, i'd like to say that one of the videos we watched was considered more 'disturbing' than the musuem itself, but the museum was overall-y more 'powerful'.

    hmm i feel like i'm just rambling.

    well whenever you go there, point out the architecture. it's really cool; it's reminiscent of a camp the way they designed it.

  • 7 years ago

    Absolutely - he/she is certainly old enough to learn about one of the worst acts of brutality ever committed in history. Please have planned a fun thing for after - for example --- the movie "To Fly" at the Air & Space Museum. You should buy timed tickets for both ahead of time.

    Mom of four - grandmother of twelve -

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.